Buccaneers sink turnover-prone Titans

Sunday, October 14, 2007 at 11:05pm

TAMPA, Fla. — The team that wins by the sloppy football game dies by the sloppy football game.

A week after beating the Atlanta Falcons despite five turnovers and one offensive touchdown, the Tennessee Titans could not offer a repeat performance, losing to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 13-10 Sunday at Raymond James Stadium.

The Titans not only lost the game, but also lost quarterback Vince Young in the third quarter to a quadriceps injury, leaving his status for next week’s game in Houston in doubt.

Tennessee followed much the same recipe for disaster that it did a week ago against the Falcons, only this time, the consequences caught up to them against the Buccaneers.

The Titans turned the ball over three times, losing two fumbles, plus a Young interception and had two more Kerry Collins interceptions overturned by instant replay.

In addition, Tennessee managed just 96 rushing yards on 33 carries and did not have a rush from scrimmage of longer than nine yards.

“We should have won. That’s how we feel in this locker room,” tight end Bo Scaife said. “I’m pretty sure they’re going to say different, but we should have won. We had our backs to the wall. We just had to make one play. We could have done a better job early in the game executing. As an offense, we’ve got to score more than 10 points.”

Nonetheless, with the Titans trailing 10-3 with 7:34 to play, Collins moved them 86 yards in 13 plays over 6:17 for the tying touchdown on LenDale White’s 2-yard run with 1:24 to play.

Just as they did last week against Atlanta, the Titans then placed the game in the hands of their defense, asking it to get a stop with 1:17 to play. This time, however, the Titans defense could not answer the challenge and allowed Jeff Garcia to drive the Bucs 55 yards in 1:01 where Matt Bryant nailed a 43-yard field goal with 16 seconds left to hand the Titans the loss.

The key play came on third-and-10 with 1:05 to play when Garcia eluded the rush of Travis LaBoy and completed a pass to Ike Hilliard, who not only gained 28 yards, but went all the way across the field to get out of bounds. From there, Garcia completed three more passes to set up Bryant’s winning kick.

“We were close all afternoon. Unfortunately, we weren’t close enough,” LaBoy said of a Titans front four that pressured Garcia, but did not record any sacks.

It was an ugly game from the start with a Chris Brown fumble at the Bucs’ 36 thwarting a Titans drive in the second quarter.

Tampa Bay cashed in on the turnover as Garcia completed a 39-yard pass to Michael Clayton that set up Bryant’s 23-yard field goal that gave the Buccaneers a 3-0 halftime lead.

The Titans answered on the opening series of the third quarter with a Rob Bironas 48-yard field goal, and the game remained tied until a blown coverage in the Tennessee secondary allowed Joey Galloway to go 69 yards for the go-ahead touchdown. The deep pass beat both safety Calvin Lowry and cornerback Nick Harper, who was helping on the play.

“I was helping,” Harper said. “It’s just one of those things where we’ve both got to make the play. We had just got through talking about it. We knew what they were going to do. We knew it was coming, and we’ve both got to make that play.”

Said Galloway, “The safeties are what we are hunting there. If we can beat the safeties and we throw pretty well, he made a nice throw and we got to the end zone.”

It seemed as though the Titans offense would need a compass to find the end zone until the tying fourth-quarter drive where Collins completed a 42-yard pass to Justin Gage to put Tennessee in business at the Bucs’ 32. The Titans eventually scored seven plays later, but needed help from replay to overturn a Ronde Barber interception that would have killed the drive.

With the game then in the defense’s hands, the Titans could not contain Garcia and fell short, falling to 3-2 and putting an exclamation point on an effort that was close but not good enough.

“We didn’t do our job,” defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz said. “Our job is to give up less points than our opponent, and we didn’t get that done. We gave up two big plays that led to scores, and we have them third-and-10 in the two-minute. …. Those three plays were the biggest difference.”

Filed under: Sports
By: junebugfan on 12/31/69 at 6:00

They'll get it turned around. It's not a lack of effort I've seen the last two weeks, just a lack of execution. There's way too much talent and pride on this team to not improve. Unlike the last few years, they are playing like a unified team again.

By: jtune on 12/31/69 at 6:00

Their offensive ineffectiveness appears to be a trend that occurs over and over with this team. I'm also not convinced that Lendale White is the running back answer for this team in the long run.

By: junebugfan on 12/31/69 at 6:00

You're right, jtune. They do struggle to run the ball, year in and year out. I don't think it is so much a personnel problem as it is a scheme problem. White has shown he can be effective, although I think he would have a lot more "burst" if he dropped about 15-20 lbs. It's hard for anyone to average over 3yds per if you have defensive linemen on your side of the line of scrimmage when you're handed the ball. I haven't seen Chow's scheme working on a consistent basis.

By: frank brown on 12/31/69 at 6:00

jtune, I agree with you. A fat running back is not the answer. Lendale is not interested in playoffs and championships he is more interested in the off-season and buffets

By: TRHJR on 12/31/69 at 6:00

Yer right... Len "whale" is not the answer for a every down back...and now Poor ol Chris Brown just can`t get a break on being injured..... Hate to say this but the Bucs defence line beat-up the Titans O line.... Wonder bad bad 72 is hurt ? or how much it effective him yesterday ?

By: codyle on 12/31/69 at 6:00

I agree that we need a big improvement in the running game. However, that is not going to happen as long as we are not willing to get vertical with the passing game and throw the ball downfield more often to keep the secondaries that we face honest. It would be interesting to see a stat on the number of pass attempts that we have had that were over 15 yards.

By: tnsmith71 on 12/31/69 at 6:00

It is obvious that we have not been able to develop our long game offensively due to the weakness of our receiving core. Everyone seems to be dogging Lendale- But he is consistently getting the plays done! Sure he could stand to lose a few pounds but he always puts some yardage out ther. Chris Brown has developed this year as well Bo Scaiffe..... Now that Vince is questionable, This part of our game will need to be more consistent. I think that putting Vince back in the game in the fourth quarter would have a disaster. No point in further risking injury to our Franchise QB.

By: junebugfan on 12/31/69 at 6:00

Excellent observation, codyle. Another constant year in/year out, in addition to the lack of a consistent run game, is Fisher's (and a lot of fans') contention that our lack of downfield passing plays lies in our wideouts' inability to "get open". Two problems with that observation. One, if that is the case, then why have we gone ten years without being able to obtain any receivers who CAN get open? Isn't that a scouting issue? Secondly, how was Billy Volek able to light it up like he did with the same receivers Steve was throwing the ball to? I think he had a few 400+ yds games as well as one 500+? I think the problem is that Steve was never a highly accurate passer in the pocket, and it looks like VY may have the same issue. All of our routes with Steve were "stop" routes (button hooks, etc.) where the receiver had to turn around and look at the quarteback - a stationary target. Fisher always complained our receivers weren't getting any R.A.C. - how do you do that when you're standing still with your back facing the end zone? Anyone remember the Titans EVER running a quick slant, like Farve is so good at? That's how you get R.A.C. You hit the guy in stride at full speed coming across the middle of the field. Another thing. Do you remember the post-loss interview of a dejected and frustrated D. Mason in the locker room, where he said that "open" in the NFL doesn't always have to mean that you have ten steps on the corner? The commentators have even bought into it now, as evidenced by Dierdorf's statement that VY had no business "just slinging that ball downfield without even taking the time to look and see that Williams was covered". He was WIDE OPEN Dan! He had two steps on the guy! The problem was that the ball was horribly underthrown. I was a big fan of Steve and I'm an even bigger fan of VY, and I hope he heals up quickly, but let's wise up and put the blame where it lies, and get off the wideouts already.